Category Archives: blog

Assessing the Value of Corporate Blogs: A Social Capital Perspective

The following co-authored article appeared here: 0361-1434/$26.00 © 2010 IEEE
2 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION, VOL. 53, NO. 4, DECEMBER 2010

—CRAIG BAEHR, MEMBER, IEEE, AND KONSTANZE ALEX-BROWN
Abstract—This three-phased study examines corporate blog use, specifically the impact and value of blogs on organizational social capital and knowledge sharing at Dell Inc., a global computer manufacturer. The impact of social-mediated Web 2.0 technologies on organizational social capital has received limited attention in scholarship,possibly because of the inevident connection to measurable economic value and newness of the technology. Our findings indicate the corporate blog can be used as a sustainable forum leading to a shared understanding of organizational roles, increased sense of group cohesiveness, improved work processes, and fostering of professional and personal ties between employees in the organization.

Knowledge is embedded in the collective workforce of an organization and is highly dependent on human interaction to share and attribute value to that information. With the increasing level of information a worker encounters on a daily basis, the task of capturing tacit knowledge, properly contextualizing it, and distributing it across an organization has stretched the limits of human capacity. With the emergence of participatory technologies, organizations have invested in software and web-based tools for information and knowledge capturing, sharing, and reuse. They also allow for improved interaction, collaboration, and accessibility of structured and unstructured data in varying degrees of formality. Using these tools to capture and disseminate organizational knowledge can depend greatly on the social capital of the organization, through the informal relationships, networks, and communities formed by its workers.

Many corporations are using blogs, wikis, knowledge bases, and social networking sites as routine parts of their business operations. Examples such as Jammer, Twitter, Facebook, and various Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMs), such as MOSS 2007, that include blogging and microblogging applications are ubiquitous in today’s workplace. Rockley notes that ECMs have evolved to include management of unstructured content and data such as email, blog posts, wiki entries, and even personal profile pages of social networking sites [1]. Manovich adds that metadiscourse and metacontent, such as tag clouds and social bookmarking capabilities, have also become important parts of these technologies [2]. Collaborative authoring is also collaborative knowledge sharing—along with legacy content, we have come to expect feedback, cross-posting, discussion, and comments as an essential part of the genre.

Blogs, as social networking tools, have become widely used in social and corporate settings. Blogs are websites (often participatory) that feature regular commentary and related content on a specific subject, which is usually presented in reverse chronological order. Blogs can contain textual, visual, multimedia, and even interactive content. Blogs have been studied as social genres that allow individuals and groups to share dialog on a specific subject. Miller and Shepherd argue the social blog genre has value through its immediacy, formal features, brevity, self-expressive content, and community development and involvement [3].While the blog’s initial function was primarily social
in nature, more recently, organizations have begun using blogs as networking and information-sharing tools, internally for employees and externally for customers and vendors. In organizational contexts, corporate blogs are more focused on knowledge sharing and information reuse. They emphasize efficient information delivery to large numbers of individuals and serve as a common knowledge
base. Tørning states that this type of blog serves as a “knowledge repository for getting information and for learning processes” [4, p. 2]. Workers must intrinsically invest in this communication technology, use it, contribute to its development, and see potential value in their efforts, from either an individual or an organizational perspective. The resulting products can create social capital within an organization, which connects the value of knowledge sharing to its impact on organizational efficiency and, ultimately, innovation. From a management perspective, integration and sustainability of these information products depend heavily on measuring and proving proving their bottom-line value to the organization.

Brave New World (6): Now What?

This review of the literature, while limited in scope, does point out the general need for continued review and revision of rhetorical concepts based on new constellations of communication afforded by interactive, participatory, customizable Web 2.0 technologies. Careful examination of the rhetorical situation for each emerging new online communication medium is needed to determine applicable rhetorical concepts. Students have to be prepared for operating in the new communication media with adequate pedagogical strategies. Continue reading Brave New World (6): Now What?

Brave New World (5): The Medium Matters

Throughout my review of the literature and my own daily experience, one theme has emerged as an umbrella over all the three aforementioned foci of research: the technology used to communicate plays a fundamental role when considering the rhetorical concept or theory to be applied.

Barbara Warnik (2005) calls for researchers in the field of new media rhetoric to propose new methods of study for the examination of electronic text rather than focus on methods that can be characterized as printcentric. Continue reading Brave New World (5): The Medium Matters

Brave New World (4): Pedagogical Considerations

The third concept I saw emerge in my review of the literature concerns the development and implementation of new or revised pedagogical considerations.

Stephanie Vie (2008) while not directly mentioning the rhetoric of social networking technologies, puts out a call to action with respect to changing how composition is taught in the classroom. The traditional approach using the academic essay as the central focus in the composition classroom, according to Vie, needs to be adapted to foster a technological literacy that is required to navigate and compose within and across the new Web 2.0 technologies. Shifts in the perception of authorship and audience and the extremely participatory nature of these technologies need to be addressed by instructors in order to remain relevant.

Continue reading Brave New World (4): Pedagogical Considerations

Brave New World (3): New Rhetorical Concepts

Throughout the history of rhetoric, traditional theories and concepts have been examined and reexamined many times to adapt to new communication media and technologies. With the strong emergence of Web 2.0 communication technologies and the immense popularity of social media the reexamination of traditional concepts naturally continues. This relatively small review of the literature strongly suggests the general agreement among theorists that traditional concepts have to be revisited, revised, and reconceptualized in light of the participatory Web 2.0 communication technologies and the associated rhetorical situations that make them sustainable.

Continue reading Brave New World (3): New Rhetorical Concepts

Brave New World (2): The Rhetorical Situation

The emergence of a communicative need creates a more or less intense urgency to communicate, called a rhetorical situation. This situation calls for resolution by communication. If intense, pervasive, and universal enough a resolution is likely to be found or constructed. Reversely, if a medium or technology appears to be the resolution for a existent rhetorical situation it will be readily adopted and sustained. Continue reading Brave New World (2): The Rhetorical Situation

Brave New World (1): Participatory, Interactive, I-Centered

Although still lacking one official definition, Web 2.0 technologies have conquered the online realm of communication. History has taught us that the conqueror is never quite satisfied with simply conquering. The conqueror reshapes and redefines. The conqueror makes new rules. This process can be a cruel and bloody one at times. But this is where this metaphor has to end. Continue reading Brave New World (1): Participatory, Interactive, I-Centered